PHILADELPHIA — Mention the University of Virginia team that has won five overtime games this year and most people would think men’s basketball.
The UVa men’s lacrosse can only hope there is one more similarity between the programs.
Seven weeks after the Cavaliers won their first national championship in men’s basketball, UVa will go for its sixth men’s lacrosse title at 1 p.m. Monday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Third-seeded Virginia (16-3) will meet fifth-seeded Yale (15-3). Yale, the defending champion, dispatched top-seeded Penn State 21-17 in Saturday’s second semifinal.
The last time UVa had multiple national championships in the same season was in 2014-15 with men’s soccer, men’s tennis and baseball.
The Cavaliers advanced with a 13-12 sudden-death victory over Duke, which had won the previous 11 games between the teams and 19 of the last 20.
“We have heard some of those analogies, starting last weekend and this weekend as well,” said third-year UVa lacrosse coach Lars Tiffany, whose team beat Maryland 13-12 in double overtime in the quarterfinals.
“What [basketball coach] Tony Bennett and his teams have done over the past decade is fantastic. His ability to sustain that success is something that we certainly have not done.
“We fondly take that kind of question and we appreciate it.”
Almost lost in a review of Virginia’s season were consecutive overtime wins over Princeton, Syracuse and Brown in a 15-day span starting in late February.
UVa had gone 1-2 to start the season, with losses to Loyola (Md.) and High Point.
“Maybe Tony started following us first,” said Tiffany, admitting he had tongue in cheek. “In their case, it was three or four points with 30 seconds left. In our case, it was two, three or four goals with five minutes left.”
There is little athletic history between Virginia and Yale, particularly in lacrosse, where the teams have met seven times and only once in consecutive seasons, when they split a two-game set in 1990-91, with both games played at UVa.
The connection between the teams now is the two head coaches, past Ivy League rivals Tiffany and Andy Shay. Shay is in his 15th season at Yale, where one of his rivals was Brown, where Tiffany was the head coach from 2007-16.
“He earned a national championship in 2018 and is on the precipice of winning another one,” Tiffany said. “He’s simply one of the best coaches in the game.”
In order to be successful, Virginia will need to be prepared for an early onslaught from Yale, which led Penn State 10-2 after the first quarter and has scored a combined 26 goals in the first quarter of its three NCAA games.
“Our job as coaches is to make sure our guys recognize how fast Yale is individually and how fast their tempo is,” Tiffany said. “They never let you rest.”
There isn’t much that the rival coaches don’t know about each other.
“We spent a lot of years where people didn’t think we were good enough to compete in certain games,” Shay said. “So, we’re kind of rekindling that underdog mentality.
“These guys [from Virginia] are incredibly talented. They’re an ACC team that’s higher seeded. We feel like we’re the underdog against them for sure.”